The Orson app was a library of narrated, illustrated editions for iPads and iPhones.
Co-founded by Benjamin Morse and Richard Mason, the company operated from 2011-18.
We migrated www.orsonandco.com to this page in 2022.
Orson's launch edition won multiple media awards for its artist-driven, reader-sensitive format. Written by Richard Mason and narrated by Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, it synched the audio book with a gloriously illuminated edition. The download included: hand-drawn illustrations from Raguenet’s Materiaux et Documents d’Architecture: 44 color and archival images; historical essays; author videos; and 14 classical pieces recorded specifically for the Orson.
Tom Sancton's tribute to the New Orleans jazz legends who mentored him in the last years of segregation is an homage to their distinctively American genius. Readers were treated to 80 images, 10 short films, and 27 vintage tracks from the likes of George Lewis, Punch Miller, Bunk Johnson, and the Eureka and Olympia Brass Bands.
When investigative journalist Leslie Maitland set out to track down her mother's childhood sweetheart, she began a journey through Nazi occupation and family exile. Last-minute escapes and intercepted correspondence were brought to life by countless images, historical maps, and family trees. Maitland's is an epic tale--a triumph of resilience and of how romance can survive decades of separation.
The generous support of the Albers Foundation allowed Orson to bring its tech development to completion. Following Josef’s death, Anni Albers helped oversee her husband’s legacy while expanding her printmaking and textile design until her death in 1994. Sounding Anni was an introduction to her faith that "to comprehend art is to confide in a constant." She and Josef devoted their lives to that irrefutable, uplifting vision.
Harriet Sergeant's exposé of how the British care system fails Black Caribbean youth is as essential now as it was when the book was first published in 2012. Narrated by Joanna Lumley, the Orson edition brought to life the friendships Sergeant formed with a gang of boys in Brixton--relationships that are going strong to this day. Essays in the Orson cover topics such as how progressive educational models can paralyze young people's potential for social mobility.
Orson launched its first forgotten classic with an edition of Émile Zola's The Belly of Paris (1873). Illustrations by blind contour artist Ian Sklarsky made the intrigues of food merchants in Les Halles both whimsical and real. Other images included work by Cézanne, Manet, Doisneau, and Charles Marville. For this edition Orson also invented the pop-up footnote!
Shawn Carter Peterson narrated F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece in a version that brought the sights and sounds of the early 1920s to the touchscreen generation. The pulldown menu allowed students to view lecture shorts and sample essays by a leading American literary scholar. The design was as sophisticated as Daisy Buchanan herself.
A Gen X fictional memoir like none other, Benj Hewitt's When I Come Around demonstrated what the Orson could do for contemporary fiction. Set in the Bay Area, it follows the protagonist from the optimism of his "Free To Be You and Me" childhood to the hip hop and grunge that accompanied his attempt to escape family tragedy.
Orson's collaboration with LA Theatre Works lit up the verses of Shakespeare's tragedy as the cast recited them. Original drawings by a Glasgow School of Art graduate accompanied stills from historic productions. A way to make the Bard's language fully accessible, the Orson edition was a total work of art.
Joanna Lumley praises the Orson experience